Welcome to the 255th edition of the Data Reaper Report!
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Number of Games
|Top 1K Legend||37,000|
|Legend (Excluding Top 1k)||22,000|
|Diamond 4 to 1||134,000|
|Diamond 10 to 5||187,000|
Class Frequency Discussion
The main story of the week is the rise of Unholy-Aggro Death Knight at all levels of play, making it one of the most popular decks in the format. Alongside the fairly popular Frost-Burn and Blood-Control archetypes, it elevates Death Knight to be the most prevalent class at every rank bracket. The new class is finally at the forefront of its expansion with every rune playing a part. Furthermore, some experiments of Rainbow Death Knight have appeared, a deck running a single rune of every type. Its playstyle is very similar to Unholy.
Rogue has declined. Thief Rogue remains popular but Miracle Rogue has become a more fringe deck, drastically declining at top legend. It’s a peculiar situation since Miracle Rogue has been outperforming Thief quite drastically at higher levels of play and shown more adaptability to the balance changes. Still, Thief Rogue’s play rate hasn’t made much competitive sense for a while. Players just love it.
Mage is focused on three archetypes: Frost, Big-Spell, and Wildfire. Casino Mage has declined following its failure to make its mark on the format, looking like a deep Tier 4 deck last week.
Meta trends last week indicated that a more favorable field for Phylactery Warlock at top legend was coming. The deck has risen in play since. Outside of legend, the two Imp Warlock archetypes are more popular.
Pure Paladin has declined throughout ladder, especially at top legend, where its play rate has been cut by over 50%. Unholy DK’s rise is likely a factor, as this matchup has proven to be extremely difficult (35-65). Dragon and Control Paladin don’t see much play.
All sorts of Priest decks are found, but none of them have much traction. The usual Priest mess.
Evolve Shaman has slightly declined. There’s not much else going in the class. Some players are experimenting with Murloc/Control hybrids. Others like their Big Shaman. Neither option has taken off.
Ramp Druid becomes less visible the more you climb ladder. Players are trying to figure out how to survive against Unholy Death Knights. Aggro Druid also struggles against the Unholy swarm.
Fel Demon Hunter sees a little bit of play and is the most common Demon Hunter deck, with Aggro DH declining and falling off.
There’s just a little bit more Enrage Warrior compared to last week, but the deck is still a bit of a unicorn. Control Warrior players are in depression. Interest in Hunter is falling, with Shockspitter being abandoned.
vS Meta Score
vS Power Rankings Discussion
- Unholy-Aggro Death Knight’s meteoric rise has been quite dramatic once its refinement has been completed over the last week. Its win rate has shot up dramatically at all levels of play, making it the best deck or one of the best decks at every rank bracket. What caught us off-guard is how dominant it has proven to be at top legend, establishing itself as the only Tier 1 performer in this bracket. From being a laughing stock at the launch of the expansion, Unholy DK is headed into the mini-set as the deck to beat. It has had a massive influence on the performance of many decks in the format, as you’ll see throughout this discussion.
- Frost-Burn is also quite good, looking to establish itself as Unholy’s biggest counter. It is generally very strong against board-centric decks thanks to its stalling capabilities.
- Blood-Control has a decent matchup with Unholy and has gotten stronger over the last week, thanks to a more favorable field. It’s not one of the best decks out there since its matchup spread is still very flawed, but it looks competitive enough to see some success. It is better than Thief Rogue at every rank bracket, to give you some perspective.
- Rainbow Death Knight’s hype doesn’t have much merit. It’s not a terrible deck, sitting at Tier 3, but it looks like a drastically worse version of Unholy DK. We struggle to see why we would ever play it over the better version. It loses Unholy’s best cards for mediocre replacements.
- Thief Rogue looks remarkably tame, but the player base may not give up on it until it rotates out of Standard. Miracle Rogue’s decline in play at top legend doesn’t match its performance. It is one of the stronger decks in that field, despite not being as good as it used to be.
- Frost Mage has suffered a dramatic decline in its performance, especially at higher levels of play. Frost Mage was touted as the Rogue killer, so the drastic decline of Rogue, especially the unexpected fall in Miracle Rogue’s popularity at top legend, has been a big factor. Furthermore, Frost Mage doesn’t have a great matchup against Unholy Death Knight, a deck that’s also responsible for a decline in Pure Paladin, a strong matchup for Mage. The field has just become dramatically more hostile to Frost Mage very quickly.
- Big-Spell Mage remains one of the better choices for the climb to legend. Wildfire Mage’s rise in win rate is a result of its refinement, cleaning up some of its worst-performing builds that we mentioned last week. It’s a Tier 2 deck if it’s 100% optimized.
- Phylactery Warlock indeed got better this week. The drastic fall in both Pure Paladin and Miracle Rogue is exactly what the doctor ordered. Those are the two most oppressive matchups for the Rod-wielding combo deck. On the other hand, the Unholy DK matchup looks fine (50-50).
- Unholy Death Knight destroys Imps, so both Imp Warlock variants have suffered big declines in win rates. Curse-Imp can adapt better and remains a strong choice throughout ladder, but without curses, it’s becoming a struggle at higher rank brackets.
- Pure Paladin’s rough matchup with Unholy DK is quite evident, looking at its decline in performance. It’s still a good deck, but it’s getting worse daily. Control and Dragon Paladin are playable but nothing beyond it.
- Priest has a bunch of decks with small sample sizes worth mentioning. Bless Priest looks competitive at top legend (at least Tier 2). Svalna Priest is also looking okay at that level (Tier 3). These decks are difficult to play, so they are not very accessible at lower ranks.
- Undead & Quest Priest are not great, but they are not terrible choices throughout ladder. Control Priest is better than it looks because it’s extremely unrefined. It could be closer to Tier 3 rather than being a complete dumpster deck.
- Evolve Shaman was 100% optimized at the launch of the patch, so it was bound to decline as other decks got better, but it deals with Unholy Death Knight relatively well. Small samples of other Shaman archetypes haven’t shown promise so far.
- Ramp Druid can do better against Unholy DK with the right card choices, but the matchup will still be difficult. A consolation is that Unholy DK kills other aggressive decks, which means Ramp Druid doesn’t find itself in a worse position. It’s more playable at legend where players tend to run slower decks. Aggro Druid is getting destroyed by every kind of Death Knight, so its prospects are not looking good.
- Fel Demon Hunter is looking very solid. Its top legend performance is a bit surprising, considering it can struggle against some of the stronger decks, but it preys on popular yet underwhelming archetypes (Blood DK, Thief Rogue). The declines of Miracle Rogue and Pure Paladin have been helpful.
- Unholy DK dominates early board control like no other deck in the format, so, naturally, Enrage Warrior will struggle against it. Still, Enrage Warrior is a fine deck to play, exhibiting a positive win rate at every rank bracket. It’s the anti-Thief Rogue: a good deck that few care to play.
- Hunter is generally not the best class to queue into Unholy DK. Still, big declines in the performances of Beast and Spitter Hunter are mostly a product of other decks getting better while the class stands still, solved with no room to grow and improve.
Class Analysis & Decklists
Unholy Death Knight looks like the best deck in the game. The build featured last week looks perfect.
Rainbow Death Knight has been getting a lot of hype over the last week, but results indicate it’s significantly inferior to Unholy. Lord Marrowgar and Grave Strength are top tier cards. There’s no way it is worth cutting them for some mediocre Blood and Frost cards.
- Death Knight Class Radar
- Blood-Ctrl Death Knight
- Frost-Burn Death Knight
- Unholy-Aggro Death Knight
- Rainbow Death Knight
Astalor has been getting stronger over the last week. It is far weaker than it used to be, but the field is demanding more late game from Miracle Rogue. One Mailbox Dancer makes way.
Frost Mage players are not pleased to see the rise of Unholy Death Knight. If you need some tips to do better in this matchup, find Deathborne in your mulligan. The card is key to blowing out the opponent and taking a board lead they cannot overcome. Incremental curving out of minions will eventually put you behind.
You don’t have all the time in the world, since Marrowgar is a rough game ending play. Pressure their life total as much as possible to put yourself within reach before he enters the board. Frozen Touch is very important here.
Brann has consistently been a bait card in Big-Spell Mage for a long time, but the addition of School Teacher as well as the meta slowing down due to Unholy DK killing other aggressive decks is making the dwarf better now.
Wildfire Mage started running Arcane Wyrms and they’re looking solid. Astalor and Finley make way. Astalor isn’t necessary for this archetype since its late game is already very strong.
- Mage Class Radar
- Frost Mage
- Big-Spell Mage
- Wildfire Mage
Phylactery Warlock has expectedly gotten stronger this week. Players are cutting a Mortal Coil to fit in either a 2nd Fiendish Circle or a 2nd Shallow Grave. This is a lean towards slower matchups. Either switch seems equally fine. Life for Imp Warlock has been more difficult due to the rise of Unholy DK.
- Warlock Class Radar
- Imp Warlock
- Curse-Imp Warlock
- Phylactery Warlock
Paladin has been getting quiet. The defensive variant of Pure Paladin is the better performer against Unholy Death Knight, so it’s looking slightly better on ladder compared to the Turbo Countess variant. It’s not a big difference though.
- Paladin Class Radar
- Pure Paladin
- Control Paladin
- Dragon Paladin
Defensive Priest decks have been experimented with since they have the tools to fight off Unholy Death Knight, but the rest of their matchup spread is usually very flawed. Still, we have found some builds with potential promise.
Quest Priest might be the strongest and most stable performer, since its inevitability can help beat some of the slower decks in the format. Control Priest looks more promising running the Thief package over the Plaguespreader disruption package. Svalna Priest with Forgefiend looks like a decent enough deck at top legend.
Undead Priest should be running the burn variant after the rise of Unholy Death Knight. It’s very difficult to win board against them, so leaning towards the late game is a better plan.
- Priest Class Radar
- Undead Priest
- Bless Priest
- Control Priest
- Quest Priest
- Svalna Priest
The class has Evolve Shaman and nothing else. Players are experimenting with all sorts of Control & Big Shaman decks, but they don’t look good enough to compete.
Ramp Druid’s desperate search for defensive tools to stand up to Unholy Death Knight has resulted in the addition of Spammy Arcanist and Silvermoon Sentinel. Spammy Arcanist is a long established tech card in the deck, but Sentinel is a new experiment trying to take advantage of Druid’s ability to get to 8 mana quickly through Nourish.
Turns out that adding both cards makes a big difference, improving Ramp Druid’s standing against the field. The matchup against Unholy DK, for example, improves by more than 15%! Ramp Druid is still unfavored, but it’s closer to 40% compared to its previous iteration winning this matchup less than 25% of the time. The performance of Spammy Arcanist makes us think it’s likely a worthwhile inclusion in other decks that currently don’t run it. A good example is Big-Spell Mage.
Fel Demon Hunter’s best build has been figured out for a while. It’s looking quite good throughout ladder, but other Demon Hunter decks are not so lucky.
- Demon Hunter Class Radar
- Fel Demon Hunter
- Aggro Demon Hunter
Enrage Warrior is a good deck but still isn’t played much. Something compelling needs to be added to the shell for players to care, but it’s very competitive. Control Warrior needs serious help.
Hunter’s development has been non-existent. The class is tanking its performance due to the absence of potential improvement as other strategies become more efficient. Harpoon Gun and Doggie Biscuit help you race against Unholy Death Knights, so we’d prefer running them at this stage at every rank bracket in Spitter Hunter.
Unholy Death Knight has reached the top of the meta, changing the format with its arrival. This event is unlikely to have been on many players’ bingo cards, but it’s a nice change of pace before the upcoming mini-set. Remember that the last mini-set of the Hearthstone year should have callbacks from the entire year. Could we see a Death Knight colossal, for example? More infuse and manathirst cards? Perhaps some bones will be thrown at under-supported archetypes? We’ll find out soon.
For now, the undead swarm will run rampant on ladder.
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